UFC 301: Pantoja vs. Erceg — Preview and Best Bets

UFC 301 features a flyweight main event from Rio this weekend. Check out our best bets for the main card.

April 30, 2024

UFC 301 is set for this Saturday in Rio De Janeiro, the company’s first time back to the city since January 2023. It’s a particularly intriguing card because it will feature a lot of hometown talent, so the crowd is likely to be boisterous from the start and throughout the night. This event includes a five-fight main card, which will be preceded by nine preliminary fights.

The main event is a UFC Flyweight Championship title bout between current champion Alexandre Pantoja and challenger Steve Erceg. The other main card fights are Jonathan Martinez vs. Jose Aldo, Vitor Petrino vs. Anthony Smith, Michel Pereira vs. Ihor Potieria, and Caio Borralho vs. Paul Craig.

Tipico Sportsbook currently offers moneyline wagers on UFC 301’s main card and undercards, with odds for additional betting options such as method of victory becoming available as Saturday’s action draws nearer. The listed Tipico odds for each fight are as of Monday and could change in the coming days.

Alexandre Pantoja (-200) vs. Steve Erceg (+165)

The 34-year-old Pantoja was born in Rio de Janeiro, so the crowd will be in his corner as he looks to defend the UFC Flyweight Championship which he captured from Brandon Moreno at UFC 290 in July 2023. Pantoja is 27-5 overall, having won five consecutive fights since his last loss, which came in July 2020 against Askar Askarov. All five of Pantoja’s losses have come via decision, while he has a balanced eight wins by knockout, 10 by submission and nine by decision.

Pantoja’s opponent will be the 28-year-old Erceg, who has won 11 straight fights to bring his professional record to 12-1. He is also 3-0 since signing with UFC.

Given the venue and Pantoja’s significant edge in experience, the favorite’s likely to come out on top in this fight, but Erceg is a name that will remain on the rise even in defeat.

Best Bet: Pantoja

Jonathan Martinez (-155) vs. Jose Aldo (+135)

Martinez has won each of his last six fights to improve to 19-4. In two of his last three bouts, the 30-year-old Los Angeles native has won Performance of the Night with a leg kick TKO on both occasions. Aldo is coming out of retirement, as the 37-year-old Brazilian had previously decided to end his career in September 2022. Aldo’s a former WEC Featherweight Champion and two-time UFC Featherweight Champion, but this will be a bantamweight bout.

In his last fight prior to retiring, Aldo took a loss against Merab Dvalishvili at UFC 278 in August 2022, dropping his career record to 31-8. While Aldo is the more decorated competitor and will have majority support from the Brazilian crowd, Martinez has demonstrated better form lately, and Martinez is the rightful favorite at this stage of their respective careers.

Best Bet: Martinez

Vitor Petrino (-500) vs. Anthony Smith (+370)

This is another battle between two fighters in very different stages of their careers. Petrino’s a 26-year-old Brazilian rising star with an 11-0 record, while Smith’s best days are behind him at age 35. Smith has lost three of his last four fights, dropping the American’s career record to 37-19. The disparity between these two is likely too great at this stage for Smith to keep things competitive for long, while Petrino will be eager to notch an impressive victory in this Light Heavyweight bout and really put his name on the map.

Best Bet: Petrino

Michel Pereira (-520) vs. Ihor Potieria (+380)

Pereira is another Brazilian that will be fighting in his home country Saturday. The 30-year-old has won his last seven fights to improve to 30-11 in his career. Pereira has flipped between welterweight and middleweight throughout his career, but Saturday’s bout will mark his third consecutive in the latter category.

Meanwhile, Potieria enters the event with the disadvantage of being a last-minute replacement for Makhmud Muradov, who withdrew due to an infection. Potieria took this fight on less than one month’s notice — though he has been training for a June 22 fight against Sharabutdin Magomedov, so perhaps he’ll be in better form than anticipated. The 27-year-old Ukrainian has a career record of 21-5-0, and despite the less-than-ideal circumstances, Potieria has the best chance of pulling off an upset out of Saturday’s three heavy underdogs with +370 or longer odds. If you’re looking for a longshot to back, you’ve arrived at the right spot.

Best Bet: Potieria

Caio Borralho (-520) vs. Paul Craig (+380)

Borralho lost his second professional fight but has gone unbeaten since, building up his career record to 15-1. He’s another fighter that has switched between weight classifications, but he has recently settled into middleweight and appears to be sticking there for the foreseeable future.

Meanwhile, Craig is 17-7-1 overall, but the 36-year-old from Scotland is just 1-3 in his last four fights. The 6-2 Borralho gives up a couple inches to the 6-4 Craig, but the bigger they are, the harder they fall. Borralho’s superior takedowns should help shift the fight decisively in the Brazilian’s favor against his older, taller opponent.

Best Bet: Borralho

Sasha Yodashkin
Sasha Yodashkin has been contributing NFL, NHL, NBA, MLB and Tennis content to RotoWire since 2015, with an emphasis on DFS. He is a huge New York sports fan who has been playing fantasy sports since middle school.